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Apple gives Palm the boot - again

I see you, I raise you

Apple has again kicked the Palm Pre off iTunes.

Cupertino's latest update of its music management and online-sales app, iTunes 9, disables the Pre's ability to sync its music player with Apple's app.

It's déjà vu all over again.

Palm's sync-poaching has been an ongoing pushmi-pullyu contretemps since it was first revealed back in May that the Pre would sync with iTunes.

And when Palm's bet-the-farm smartphone was released, it did just that - as we discovered when we reviewed it in July. It mimicked the iPod so successfully that an iPod image even appeared in the iTunes Summary pane.

But then in mid-July, Apple release an iTunes update that disabled that capability. At that time an Apple spokesperson told The Reg that the update, iTunes 8.2.1, "disables devices falsely pretending to be iPods, including the Palm Pre."

But Palm was not deterred. Just 10 days later it updated the Pre's webOS to version 1.1.0, which the company said: “Resolves an issue preventing media sync from working with latest version of iTunes (8.2.1)."

Then in August, Palm filed a complaint with the USB Implementers Forum, charging that Apple was improperly manipulating the USB Vendor ID number, "in effect turning the USB Vendor ID number into a lockout code," as stated in a letter (PDF) to the USB-IF obtained by The New York Times.

As one market-researcher told the NYT at that time: "This is a classic technology cat-and-mouse game. It often comes down to which side tires first."

Apple is not tiring. Today, as reported by the Wall Street Journal's D|All Things Digital blog, Apple has again prevented the Pre from accessing iTunes in that app's latest release, iTunes 9.

Sigh...

Now the ball is in Palm's court. Again. We're betting that it will find a way to circumvent Apple's lockout once again, at least by the time it releases the Pre's little sister, the Pixi, in late November.

And the game will go on. ®

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